Luxury clothes and accessories online retailer Net-A-Porter will launch its new iPad app on Thursday; and is leading the way in the Brits' e-retail assault on the US.
Rahul Sharmer, managing director of fund manager Neev Capital, said while US superbrands Ralph Lauren and Nordstrom were the current world leaders with luxury e-retail, Net-A-Porter was certainly among the front runners.
"You wouldn't think luxury is the first space to be an early tech adopter given higher priced, but the companies are making big investments and have been among the biggest innovators on the web," he told The Huffington Post UK.
James Brooke, chief executive of rich-media experts Amplience, agreed the US was leading the world, but said brands like Net-A-Porter were helping the UK to catch up.
"While the US has traditionally led the ecommerce technology race, the gap has been very significantly closed by UK retailers who often have a very good understanding of what constitutes a great customer experience."
The new app makes it much easier to find certain products or brands, having dedicated drop down menus to help customers speed through the search process.
Under the old format, customers would have to browse through the 'magazine' pages to find similar items before being able to search.
Following the launch of its first app, which has been downloaded more than 250,000 times, the retailer's in-house technical team has worked on producing a follow-up which streamlines the browse-to-buy process.
Sarah Watson, group mobile manager at Net-A-Porter, told HuffPost UK that both the original app and the new direct shopping app would be available from Thursday.
“When we first launched the Net-A-Porter magazine app for the iPad in 2010, we felt the large hi-res screen of the iPad was the perfect platform," she said.
"We wanted to give our customer the opportunity to explore our weekly editorial content while on-the-go.
"We have since found that our customers are not only using the magazine app to browse and shop, but are also shopping directly from the website, or downloading the iPhone app onto their iPad."
The new app has also incorporated popular sections from the website, such as the Trend Edit - a sort of mood board for the latest fashions, and Net-A-Porter TV, which showcases the latest catwalks from its favourite designers.
Emma Smith, editor of YourStyleFix.com, told HuffPost UK the app was likely to be popular, since high end fashion market had remained relatively immune from the global recession.
"The fashion conscious buyer will be one of the first groups to embrace new technology and will expect brands to be at the forefront of offering speedy and time efficient apps to both keep in touch with new trends and allow their easy purchase," she added.
And it's got the vote of fashion boutiques too - Benna Harry, owner of Benna.co.uk, told us: "Net-A-Porter pretty much always leads the way with new app's and user functions for their customers with regard to ease of use and payment etc.
"I think we'll see more and more of this especially as smart phones and gadgets become more sophisticated. This is most definitely the avenue we are looking into," she said.
Online fashion retailers from London, such as Net-A-Porter and ASOS.com, have traditionally led this retail market - but with discretionary spend under pressure during the recession, will you be tempted to browse for clothes costing hundreds of pounds?
Tell us your thoughts below.
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